written by:
photos by:
December 31, 2014
Originally published in A Fresh Start
as
Beyond and Back
A couple return their A. Quincy Jones house in Los Angeles to its former glory—and add some soul of their own.
Crestwood Renovation living room with redwood paneling.

For their A. Quincy Jones house in Los Angeles, architect Bruce Norelius and his partner, Landis Green, retained and restored core elements, such as the living room’s redwood paneling and concrete-block wall.

 

 

 

 

Photo by 
1 / 15
Crestwood Renovation livingroom with redwood panelling.

“I believe Jones designed these houses to be living things. They’re not museums," says architect and resident Bruce Norelius.

Photo by 
2 / 15
Crestwood Renovation kitchen before.

Prior to the renovation, the kitchen had a cramped midcentury style. 

Photo by 
3 / 15
Crestwood Renovation kitchen with marble countertop.

The couple made the most dramatic changes in the kitchen. They installed Carrara marble and custom oiled-steel cabinetry. The artwork is by Cecil Touchon. Near the Wind Crest cooktop is a Bosch oven.

Photo by 
4 / 15
Crestwood Renovation kitchen before.

The pair worked with the existing chunky fireplace and concrete floors.

Photo by 
5 / 15
Crestwood Renovation kitchen and dining room.

The duo added custom redwood cabinetry on the dining area side. The pendants are from Birchwood Lighting.

Photo by 
6 / 15
Crestwood Renovation bedroom built-ins before.

Norelius and Green kept the built-ins in the bedrooms

 

Photo by 
7 / 15
Crestwell Renovation study with vintage table.

One of the bedrooms became a guest room and study, where a portrait of Green’s mother by Evelyn Spence-Reeve hangs above a vintage table. 

 

Photo by 
8 / 15
Crestwood Renovation study with built-in desk.

They used a deep-black hue for the room’s cabinetry and built-in desk

Photo by 
9 / 15
Crestwood Renovation master bedroom.

In the master bedroom, above the Legnoletto by Alias bed, is a photograph by John Huggins. The lamp is from Ikea. “Nothing is painted—all that stripping is about getting to the natural surfaces of the wood, and the concrete block,” Norelius says.

 

Photo by 
10 / 15
Crestwood Renovation studio with Artemide lights.

One of the bedrooms became Norelius’s studio, which includes lighting from Artemide above a custom desk. 

 

Photo by 
11 / 15
Crestwood Renovation carport leads to entrance.

The carport leads to the entrance. 

Photo by 
12 / 15
Crestwood Renovation patio before.

The backyard used to be dominated by an unspectacular concrete patio

Photo by 
13 / 15
Crestwood Renovation backyard with CB2 dining table.

The couple asked Bryan Richards of Real Natives Landscape Design to incorporate drought-tolerant plants into the landscaping. Surrounding a table from CB2 are chairs from Design Within Reach.

Photo by 
14 / 15
Crestwood Renovation floor plan.

Crestwood Renovation Floor Plan

Photo by 
15 / 15
Crestwood Renovation living room with redwood paneling.

For their A. Quincy Jones house in Los Angeles, architect Bruce Norelius and his partner, Landis Green, retained and restored core elements, such as the living room’s redwood paneling and concrete-block wall.

 

 

 

 

Project 
Crestwood Renovation

A. Quincy Jones designed some of the most dazzling midcentury houses in California, including Sunnylands—Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s vast estate outside Palm Springs—and the Brody House, in Los Angeles’s Holmby Hills. Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi bought and sold the Brody House last year, perpetuating Jones’s reputation as an architect who catered to the wealthy.

In fact, Jones was determined to prove “that modern architecture could be available at every income level,” says Cory Buckner, author of the book A. Quincy Jones. In the late 1940s, Jones set out to improve the quality of tract housing by helping to create a planned community in Brentwood, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. Called Crestwood Hills, it was intended to contain 500 houses: 160 were built, and only 33 survive. 

One of those came on the market in 2009, when the daughters of the original owners decided it was time to sell. Meanwhile, Bruce Norelius, an architect, and his partner, Landis Green, a school administrator, were looking for a house in Brentwood. They had moved from Maine to California when Green became the head of a local private school called Wildwood (which recently hired the adventurous Los Angeles architect Neil Denari to update its campus).

Crestwood Renovation carport leads to entrance.

The carport leads to the entrance. 

According to Norelius, when they saw the house in Crestwood Hills, “it felt like home.” This was despite the fact that it was small—less than 1,200 square feet—and had become, he says, “a little tired, with powder-blue carpeting and heavy draperies,” as well as countless coats of paint. The couple knew that they would have to make cosmetic changes but that they “wouldn’t be tearing down any walls.” Buying from the family of the original owners underscored their responsibility to maintain the building in as close to its original form as possible.  

Luckily, they loved that original form. Though the rooms are small, they are enhanced by what Norelius calls Jones’s “rigor and economy.” For instance, the posts that support the roof beams also act as doorjambs, eliminating the need for separate framing. Similarly, the roof sheathing, of Douglas fir, is also the ceiling’s finish surface. In Jones’s post-and-beam scheme, Norelius says, “nothing is wasted.”

The first of the three bedrooms became the master, the second the guest room, and the third Norelius’s West Coast office (he also has a studio in Maine). The living-dining room feels large because of its connection to the outdoors. For parties, “we throw all the glass doors open, and everybody congregates outside,” says Green. They augmented the landscape, adding acacia, olive trees, and rosemary. “It’s a very stripped-down palette,” says Norelius, and also one that uses very little water.

Inside, Norelius explains, the couple “replaced some of the really sad plywood with new plywood, a straight-grain vertical fir.” They redid the kitchen, installing white-marble countertops and cabinets of oiled and waxed cold-rolled steel. Those aren’t materials Jones would have chosen, but, Norelius notes, “I believe he designed these houses to be living things. They’re not museums, and though I don’t want to change the bones, this isn’t a historical restoration.”

Crestwood Renovation studio with Artemide lights.

One of the bedrooms became Norelius’s studio, which includes lighting from Artemide above a custom desk. 

 

New owners of midcentury houses often apply white paint to everything, but not Norelius and Green. As Norelius recalls, “We started stripping off white paint, [and] the browns of original timbers and the grays of concrete block were exposed.” That made the interiors darker. “We’re people who love light,” he says. “But the dark palette is so comforting. It makes the house feel like a shelter.”

Some of their neighbors are “A. Quincy Jones groupies,” Norelius says. “They know where the hardware for the kitchen cabinets was made.” Though he and Green haven’t quite achieved this level of devotion, they have been faithful to the architect’s intent. “We take our roles as stewards of this house seriously,” he says, “but what really strikes us every single day is how much fun we’re having living in it.”

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016